Post XML Night in Vermont

XML night was fun at VTdotNET last night. We had 30 people attending our meeting. This is about our mean – vs. average. We have actually had 50 at a few meetings and sometimes we have closer to 20, but it is more likely to have 30 than anything.

Joe Stagner, our MS Community Champion (though I think those titles are changing YET again) was one of the speakers. The DCC (hmm – so that d stands for something, maybe Developer Community Champion) are just about the only people in the entire corporation that do not have to account for sales, so Joe is in a nice position. These are the people responsible for the MSDN Events. Unfortunately, because of low attendance, Burlington is off the list for MSDN events. We all talked about this last night. It seems a combination of content and timing has been a problem. The first series was VSTO and Smart Clients  – the VSTO turned off a lot of people – sorry Paul – as not critical enough to leave the office for a 1/2 day. The second, on March 2nd (I was at DevDays Hartford) was both “Town Meeting Day” in Vermont and also the middle of a school break so a double whammy for a lot of people. THe end result is what I gather must become a high cost per person for putting the events together. However, since I have access to numerous free facilities, and Joe loves Burlington, we are going to try to work something out that will be very low budget, content that is driven by our user group and a win-win for everyone (including Joe).

Joe also came with  a box of many MSDN t-shirts, which disappeared so quickly that I had to ask for one (from someone who had taken two :-)) and some other goodies.

With the great focus on security lately, Joe talked about security in XML, and Dave Burke has already pointed out what was also to me a new and interesting fact – that you can encrypt xml data at the node level. Cool.

The other presentation was a tour around XML Spy and some of Altova’s other flagship products. XML Spy of course is VERY cool, but I was really blown away by Authentic (which is free) and even more so by StyleVision (which is currently separate, but will be bundled into the next version of XML Spy). I almost cried when I saw StyleVision, thinking about the PAIN and AGONY I went through learning XSLT about 3 years ago when I was creating some very complex reports on the web. This is also a great way to learn XPath, while StyleVision helps you out.

Trace Galloway (who gave a damned good technical presentation considering he’s a marketing guy!) also brought a box filled with beautiful bright red XMLSpy t-shirts and raffled off the Pro version of XML Spy. I owe an apology for my protective reaction when the winner was a bright database programmer who works for Bloomberg in NYC who was visiting his pal Ali (a VTdotNet member) and tagged along to the meeting. My gut instinct was “geeze, someone from the group should get it” – but everyone looked at me like I was being a Nazi (though I was really just being a protective momma bird). But Mike was SO excited to win the product that I know it is in VERY good hands and that he will benefit greatly from the products. Hopefully he will also be talking about how great it is to go visit the Vermont.NET user group for at least a few weeks!!

Trace was really impressed with the turnout at our meeting. He says he has been to user group meetings in the Boston area with comparable attendance. He actually suggested that I try to get Don Box to come to the group, but I think he understood when I laughed that idea off. I’m sure there would be a few people in Vermont who would probably pee in their pants if I told them Don Box was coming to speak. (oops sorry Leon, there I go again…)

So we do have an outstanding line up coming up in Vermont. Over the next few months we have our year’s INETA Speakers: Tim Huckaby, Michele Leroux Bustamante and Rocky Lhotka in October. And also Don Kiely, who is coming from Alaska on his frequent flyer miles in July. Not too shabby, eh?

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